We Have a Series!



by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

That was a quick turnaround!

The key question for handicappers...was it a 'sustainable' turnaround? The Boston Celtics surely had a great game Sunday Night in Los Angeles scoring an outright upset as a six-point underdog. We outlined overall series disadvantages for Boston heading into that game in our Sunday NOTEBOOK. Of note:

*The POINT GUARD situation took a dramatic turn for the better as Rajon Rondo came up huge despite his balky back. He still wasn't at 100%. But, he was a lot more of a plus than the Lakers point guards...running down long rebounds (he had a triple double)...hitting red hot Ray Allen for three-point jumpers...and being more of a defensive influence than he was in Game One.

*The SHOOTING GUARD edge that Kobe Bryant usually enjoys disappeared! He was in uncharacteristic foul trouble (leading to cries of 'FIX' among the Lakers faithful who were sure a series sweep was at hand). Allen set all time championship series records by making seven straight three-pointers in the first half, and ultimately eight for the game. The Lakers were searching for edges at any position. They ended winning these two spots on the floor in dramatic fashion.

If Rondo can't be a factor, Boston has no chance in the series. He became a factor. Does Boston need Allen to outplay Kobe three more times if they're going to win the series? That certainly seems likely given how invisible the Boston frontline of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have become against the tall, long, big Lakers in the paint. Boston has to win at the guard position. Pierce will certainly play better than he did in Game Two as the series develops. So will Ron Artest, who was just as bad from the floor as Pierce was. Gasol vs. Garnett? Garnett's tank is empty, and that's a potential mismatch. It's all about the GUARDS because so many other factors either cancel out, or favor the Lakers.

As you handicap the rest of the series, you'll need to keep a close eye on Rondo's capabilities. Bad backs are fickle, and can become problems at the worst possible times. Kobe Bryant is furious that Allen (and the refs) got the best of him Sunday. It will be fascinating to see how Bryant vs. Allen plays itself out in the coming days.

Jim Hurley's Network cashed in Game 2 with Boston's outright upset. Not only are we ready for tonight, but we're ready for an ENTIRE WEEK OF WINNING! Click here to learn more!

Let's see what the oddsmakers think about tonight's Game Three...

LOS ANGELES leads 1-0
Vegas Line: Boston by 2.5, total of 192.5

This is a fairly standard move from the Lakers -6 on their home floor. Home court advantage us usually worth 4-5 points. Oddsmakers are saying they have the Lakers about 1.5 to 2 points better on a neutral court.

Our talks with our Wise Guy connections are suggesting a fascinating dynamic in play for this one. The general public tends to bet the Lakers, particularly as an underdog. Professional wagerers tend to bet the bounce back off a loss, particularly with a defending champion. So, this may be a game where both sets of bettors are on the same team. That creates inbalanced action. But...the LAST time the Lakers played the Celtics in the league championships...the same thing happened and sportsbooks cleaned up! The Lakers were defined by the market as a few points better than Boston. Once the games were played, Boston was the better team. Will we see the same thing here?

If you think Boston is the better team, you're only laying 2.5 on your home floor! If you think the Lakers are going to bounce back strong, you don't have to lay any points at all. You could lose a nailbiter and still cash your bet. This is going to be a BIG MONEY game, and JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK resources will help you make the right move this afternoon.

Note the total is about the same spot as where it settled on game day Sunday. When we want to press, Vegas had lowered the number down to 190.5 or 191. Game day steam lifted it to 192 or 192.5. With the game landing on 197, and the two games so far landing on 191 and 197...we're probably in the range we're going to see for awhile pending new developments.

In terms of betting the total, we'll be looking at Unders later in the series when the refs start to swallow their whistles. Right now, they're calling EVERYTHING, and a total of 67 free throws have been shot in both games.

Here's a review of Sunday Night's scoring...

Three-Point Scoring: Boston 33, Lakers 15
Two-Point Scoring: Boston 50, Lakers 48
Free Throw Scoring: Boston 20, Lakers 31

You can see it was all three-pointers for Boston. They went from 3 to 33 in one game! That's the nature of long range shooting in this sport. You can go 1 for 10 one day, then 11 out of 16 the next. Boston trailed by as many as 20 in Game One because Ray Allen wasn't getting open looks. They looked like true champions in Game Two because the Lakers were a step or two (or seven) slow on denying his shots.

If you throw out treys, you see that the Lakers have the edge.

INSIDE SCORING (one's and two's)
Lakers 90, Boston 86
Lakers 79, Boston 70

And, that's with Lamar Odom being a non-entity because of persistent foul trouble. That's an average of 6.7 points per game. Should that hold up the rest of the way:

*Boston must win treys by two-per-game just to get back to even.
*Boston must win treys by three or more to finish on top
*When the Lakers win treys, they should pull away to easy victories.

Don't assume Boston is going to have an edge every time out. The Lakers outshot Phoenix in treys in the Western Finals...and Phoenix lives and dies by the three.

Lakers vs. Phoenix: 8-9-9-9-7-10 (52 total)
Phoenix vs. Lakers: 5-10-5-11-9-9 (49 total)

To this point Boston leads the category 12-9 in the Finals.

What's JIM HURLEY going to do tonight?

*He's going to talk to his SCOUTS and SOURCES to find out the status of Rondo's back...to find out the mindset of guys on the Lakers like Ron Artest and Lamar Odom who need to be as focused as possible with the loss of home court...and to find out what adjustments the Lakers will be making now that the players have realized it's not going to be a cakewalk.

*He's going to talk to his STAT HANDICAPPERS to review what's happened in past championships when the series underdog has split the first two games...and to see how long hot shooting teams can keep it going. Don't forget that the Lakers lost two in a row to both Oklahoma City and Phoenix. They're certainly capable of losing two in a row to Boston if the bombs keep falling.

*He's going to talk to his COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS to see how the simulation studies are going while projecting Rondo at 100%, 80%, 60%, etc... This is the true power of the NETWORK approach. We hear from our sources where Rondo stats on the health front, then we can turn that into an instant scoreboard equivalent!

*He's going to talk to his WISE GUY CONNECTIONS to get the final word on what the SMART MONEY is doing in Las Vegas and offshore.

*He's going to pull all the information together in the eye of his hurricane and find a MAJOR RELEASE WINNER for his clients!

Call 1-800-323-4453 right now to get tonight's BLOCKBUSTER. You can also purchase it here at the website with your credit card. Note that June packages are still available, and those include all baseball and basketball for the month.

It looked at first like the NBA Finals might be a yawner. Now, we've got a series! WHEN CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE ON THE LINE, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.


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